Researchers emphasized culture, interpersonal relations, and group coherence as the determinants of worker performance.
Before industrial revolution the work was mostly performed by individual workers. Any particular skill was undertaken by an individual and was time consuming. As a result the productivity was low. With the industrial revolution the nature of work and the role of the worker underwent major changes. With the arrival of machines and factories, the production increased. Along with raw materials and capital, labor was also considered a part of the manufacturing process. The employers never considered how productivity was influenced by a worker's mental needs. As a result, motivation, social relations and working conditions were never considered important. Nevertheless it affected productivity in a major way. This movement had many followers like Keith Davis, Chris Argyris, Fred Herzberg, and Rensis Likert who assumed the underlying employee-employer harmony. They attributed restriction of output to the poor communication between workers and managers, and inadequate attention to the human side of worker.
Elton Mayo (1880-1949), a Harvard professor trained in psychopathology and other researchers from Harvard University initiated what have become known as the Hawthorne Studies at the Hawthorne plant of Western Electric Company near Chicago. (The Human relations movement (circa 1929-1951))They wanted to study how the changes in physical working conditions affect employee productivity. The study revealed that even when the physical characteristics of the job like salary were declined, and employee complaints ignored, the productivity of the employees was not reduced. On the other hand there was an increase in productivity. This phenomenon was called as Hawthorne effect where the productivity of the employees who participate in the study increases only because of the attention they receive from the researchers. This discovery forms the basis of the human relations movement because it suggests that employees are highly motivated to work better when they feel important and when their work is recognized. Over the years Hawthorne effect has been successfully used by managers to increase productivity. Implementation of "self-study committees, announcing surprise audits, establishing task forces of various kinds, and in general, keeping the workers tied up with busy-work that has the appearance of ongoing research" was undertaken.
Mayo stated that the reason workers are motivated by such things is that individuals have a deep psychological need to believe that their organization cares about them, is open, concerned, and willing to listen. (The Human relations movement (circa 1929-1951))
According to mayo there should be a friendly relation between the employers and workers. At the same time the employers should consider the human values first and not the quality of the work. The employees' opinion about their work and working conditions must be taken into consideration. Further any changes in the organization must take into consideration the employees' view. This became a predominant philosophy and many theories sprung up